Israeli Aircraft Reportedly Strike Targets in Central Syria; Four Dead

YERUSHALAYIM -
Missile fire is seen over Damascus, Syria in 2019. (SANA/Handout via Reuters/File)

Syrian air defenses confronted early on Friday “an Israeli aggression” in the region of Hama that killed four people from the same family, state media said.

State-news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying the attack took place shortly before dawn when Israeli jets flew over neighboring Lebanon.

It added that Syrian air defense units shot down most of the missiles.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

This was the first strike attributed to Israel in Syria since President Joe Biden took office on Wednesday.

A father, mother and their two children were killed in the strikes, and four other civilians were wounded, while three houses were destroyed, a Syrian military source said.

The opposition-affiliated Step News Agency also reported casualties in the attack on installations belonging to the Syrian regime and Iranian militia in the Hama region.

Tension has been high in the Middle East over the past weeks as many had feared retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last year in Baghdad.

On Jan. 13, Israeli warplanes carried out intense airstrikes in eastern Syria apparently targeting positions and arms depots of Iran-backed forces. At least 57 fighters were killed and dozens were wounded, according to a Syrian opposition war monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor that tracks Syria’s war, said it recorded 39 Israeli strikes inside Syria in 2020 that hit 135 targets, including military posts, warehouses or vehicles.

Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon.